SeekingAlpha: Taiwan-based manufacturer of LCDs, AU Optronics (AUO) is reported to have recruited a team of specialists to manufacture thin-film solar cells. Solar cell manufacturing is similar in nature and would only require an investment of $7.7 million to produce thin-film solar cells on a glass substrate base line. Many companies, some small and some very large, have realized the potential of solar energy:
- Applied Materials
- Cypress Semiconductor via Sunpower Corp.
- Boeing’s Spectrolab Inc.: Recently announced 40% efficiency in converting sun’s energy into electricity.
- General Electric
- British Petroleum
- Suntech Power (China)
- Q-Cells (Germany)
Although there will always be market conditions that lead to an oversupply of LCD manufacturing capacity, to assume that transitioning from manufacturing LCDs to solar cells will be nothing less than extremely difficult can be described as quite optimistic. There will be a long period between the commencement of solar cell manufacturing R&D and actual volume production. However, there is no doubt there is synergy between solar cell manufacturing and the current equipment infrastructure to produce millions of square meters of LCD glass and LCDs.
Update: AUO has denied that it is entering the solar cell manufacturing business.